Our land of plenty

It’s been about 24 hours since we touched down at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. After landing, our group of dedicated and hard working volunteers bid each other a teary farewell and walked back into their own realities.

Angus (my husband, also on the trip) and I toasted Peru this evening at dinner. We had a glass of wine with our BBQ burgers and much-anticipated fresh vegetables. We ate on our front deck and watched the land of plenty unfold in front of us – the clean and rust-free cars, the dog-owners out for a stroll with their well-behaved pets on a leash, the air conditioning vents hum and the neighbour’s sprinkler watering their lawn. For interest sake, I counted the number of dishes we used to make and eat dinner tonight. Including tea, the total was 26.

How do we continue the spirit of giving and helping in the Canadian context where we all have so much already? How do we know what to continue giving, and to whom, in order to make a difference here? Our group pondered these questions and more over the course of our trip.

One of the best ways to remember our new friends in Peru and the lives that they live is to appreciate what we have here in Canada and to share whenever we can. We are lucky to have the comfortable lives that we have and even luckier to be able to share it.

I think back to one of the first business courses I took in university and remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. With that in mind, I realize that we, the Canadian volunteers, have a lot in common with the local people we worked alongside in Peru. Although they didn’t have the most of the luxuries and comforts that we enjoy in Canada, in many ways we were after the same things in our work with each other – love and belonging, achievement and respect and finally, a sense of self-actualization.

Our Peruvian friends were so endlessly grateful to us for the work we had done in their communities during our trip. I really hope that our efforts to make them understand that the perspectives, motivation and values that they had touched us with were just as important, if not more.

Canadian volunteers and many of our new Peruvian friends

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